Today, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released its annual “Special 301” report on worldwide intellectual property rights and enforcement.

In this year’s report. for the first time, Canada has been elevated from the Watch List to the Priority Watch list, meaning they “do not provide an adequate level of IPR protection or enforcement, or market access for persons relying on intellectual property protection.” Also, for the first time, Korea has been removed from the Watch List due to the country’s improvement in IPR enforcement.
Strong intellectual property enforcement is key to long-term economic growth and prosperity. Intellectual property rights can boost trade and foreign investment dramatically, but first, global piracy and counterfeiting must be stopped or significantly reduced for the economies of developed and developing nations to thrive.
As highlighted in the 2009 edition of the International Property Rights Index (IPRI), people in countries that protect their physical and intellectual property enjoy a GDP per capita up to nine times greater than those without legal protection. Countries that protect property rights provide an essential foundation for peace, stability and prosperity, the Index shows: its calculations cover 115 countries, representing 96 per cent of the world’s GDP.
In the U.S. alone intellectual property is valued at $5.5 trillion and accounts for more than half of all U.S. exports, driving 40 percent of this country’s economic growth. Additionally, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, counterfeit and pirated goods cost the U.S. $200-250 billion each year in lost sales.